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Getting More Highs from “The Voice”

June 14, 2011

Every once in a while, my experiences in business communications and entertainment collide.  Most recently this happened while watching the evolution of The Voice, the new NBC reality program.  While its hit status is apparent, there are issues preventing the show from truly soaring as it should.  Simply put, words matter.  As a communications professional, a trained coach and a fan, here is what I’d suggest to the producers as they plan Season 2.

Provide your coaches with clearer strategies for building their teams.  You are bless with four effective and extremely different coaches.  The chemistry among them and their varying methods of nurturing their teams is vital to the program’s success.  Their non-verbal exchanges during the blind auditions and growing ability to provide constructive feedback sets The Voice apart.  So how is it that Adam Levine secured both contestants who were “wanted” by all four coaches?  I disagree with Christina Aguilera’s dig that he’d sell a used car to someone’s grandmother.  Rather, he knew how to differentiate himself from the other three based on his proven skills, unique style and career trajectory.  It’s as if he’d been my client!   The producers should encourage coaches to share more insight about what they bring to the table based on their individual talents and tastes. This capacity is crucial to help contestants lucky enough to have a choice.  Further, the ability to picture themselves working with a specific coach would draw the audience into the process deeper and more quickly.

Rename “The Battle Rounds” to something that better reflects what works for the contestants and the show.  The word “battle” has combative connotations and encouraged dis-ease between selected contestants.  My best guess is someone with a musical background was paying homage to the Battle Royale in jazz, a competition in which the musicians seek to inspire as well as best each other.  The problem with dropping the “Royale” and adding the boxing ring set is that it promoted the concept of defeat over creative spark.  The few times an aggressive confrontation occurred, with the performers trying to out-sing each other, the results were horrendous.  I literally left the room while Dia Frampton and Serabee wrestled You Can’t Hurry Love to the ground.  This was no reflection on the artists (Frampton’s next performance flew on iTunes), but rather on the poor combination of conflict and music. When the spirit of “Royale” was present and the pairs’ talents blended to reinforce one another — like Rebecca Loebe and Devon Barley on Creep — the sound was transformative and the entertainment value tremendous.  So how about a new set with a New Orleans influence and some tips to team members to challenge each other to reach new heights.

Remember that you are “The Voice” not “The Total Package”.  The purpose of the blind auditions was to force the coaches to concentrate on the contestants’ voices without being able to take appearances into account.  It made for exhilarating viewing, unconventional choices and more than a few surprises.  This focus was defused once the show moved into phase two.  There were too many comments about clothes, movement, and “cuteness”, blurring the distinction with many other talent shows.  More effort should be made to continue the emphasis on vocal quality, emotional expression, and distinctive sound.  There’s time enough to bring in those other elements during the live shows.  Without your lead and more frequent reminders about what makes The Voice special, America might do what it always does and get behind whomever seems most familiar.  If you devolve into America’s Got an Idol Who Thinks They Can Dance with the Stars, you’ll have lost your chance to make your mark and crown a very different kind of champion.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2011 12:23 pm

    Cathy,

    Great blog post! Sounds like the producers of The Voice could use your expertise on their team. If they’re smart, they’ll hire you. 😉

    Simply the Best,
    Sylvia

    • June 14, 2011 3:53 pm

      Sylvia,
      I haven’t seen the coaching relationship explored in quite this way on television before. It will be interesting to see how the first season plays out and what changes they make for the next run. Thanks for the compliment; I’m just fine watching it from this distance though!

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